When a citizen calls 9-1-1, that call is routed through a joint emergency dispatch center for police and fire located in Capitol Heights. The call taker records vital information from the caller, including type of incident, location, number of people who are believed to be injured, and type of injuries.
From this information, a dispatch supervisor makes the decision on what personnel and apparatus will be needed to safely render aid and resolve the incident. The call is dispatched via computer and radio to our response crews, who may be either located in their stations, or already on the road returning from other assignments.
For an automobile accident, we would dispatch an engine company consisting of four or more firefighters, a basic ambulance staffed by two. Depending on the severity of the incident, we may also dispatch a “special service” unit that carries advanced rescue tools, referred to as a “battalions heavy rescue squad”. On a severe incident, we also dispatch a paramedic unit, staffed by two advanced life support trained personnel.
All of these units are selected from the closest Fire/EMS stations to the incident with adequate staffing. For a fire in an apartment, we would dispatch a total of four fire engine companies from four separate Fire/EMS stations close to the incident, accompanied by two ladder companies, and a rescue squad.